As the obesity epidemic grows in scope, so too does the “blame game.” Lack of exercise, over-consumption of food, sedentary work environments, lifestyle choices, biological predispositions, genes…the list of possible culprits for America’s fatness goes on.
Fast food is a common target. Earlier this month, an advocacy group launched a campaign petitioning 26 hospitals across the country to remove a major fast food restaurant from their cafeterias with the aim of sending a “better message” to consumers.
Some of the reasoning behind the group’s initiative comes from a 2006 study published in the journal Pediatrics that concluded that allowing fast food centers to operate in hospitals not only affects guests’ consumption of fast food on the day of their visit, but also unintentionally boosts the perception of the “healthfulness” of fast food in general. Here’s more research that supports the initiative:
The prevalence of obesity-related diseases has risen sharply over the past thirty years, and the number of fast food restaurants in America has more than doubled over the same period (The National Bureau of Economic Research).
Studies have shown that “consumption of fast food among children in the US seems to have an adverse effect on dietary quality in ways that plausibly could increase risk for obesity.”
Studies have shown that increased proximity to fast food restaurants is linked to an increase in obesity.
Courtesy of wagnerfpa.wordpress.com.
So being near to fast food increases the likelihood of obesity, but will removing fast food from hospitals (and other institutions and neighborhoods) help solve the problem?
The New York Times recently reported that studies have shown that “there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.”
Restrictive “diets” and the “diet mentality” in general do not lead to long-term effective weight-loss. What does work, according to a recent study by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, is eating less fat, exercising more, using prescription weight loss medications, or participating in commercial weight loss programs.
Calling for removal of fast food from hospitals sends the message that fast food restaurants are “bad” and can be blamed for obesity, lessening personal responsibility for our own health.
Blaming fast food restaurants for obesity can place us on a slippery slope. Should we remove buses from our streets to force people to choose the less convenient, but “healthier” walking or biking options? After all, sitting for long periods of time is correlated with obesity, and most adults do not get the recommended level of exercise.
Similarly, while we should limit consumption of fast food, we can’t eliminate it from the American diet as long as there is a demand for convenient, inexpensive, and (arguably) tasty food. We need to improve health through education and develop incentives that encourage healthy lifestyle decisions, proper nutrition, and exercise.
Perhaps a partnership between hospitals and Weight Watchers (or other proven commercial weight loss programs), or the establishment of walking groups or active events within hospital walls, could promote lasting change.
We won’t make any progress in the fight against obesity by playing the blame game at the expense of taking responsibility for our health into our own hands.
Courtesy of www.topnews.in.
What do you think? Will restricting fast food lead to a decrease in obesity? How can we as individuals, families, and institutions promote a healthier America?
It’s no secret that the media isn’t kind to girls. From unrealistic, Photoshopped pictures of women in fashion magazines to overtly sexualized images of tweens and teens on television and in movies, many girls grow up with diminished self-esteem, believing they’re neither pretty enough nor thin enough to hold worth in our society.
Enter Kids Yoga Instructor Jen Hess and her GirlPower! program, designed to help girls in 4th and 5th grades focus on personal strengths and self-empowerment, instead of the negative media messages surrounding them.
“Girls this age are at a confusing stage in their lives, “ says Jen. “My goal for this yoga-centered program is to help them increase their level of self-awareness, channel their feelings, and connect those feelings to actions and words.”
In addition to yoga, each girl will be given a book for journaling, and will create an individual magazine to capture the positive messages learned in class.
“I want to affect change in girls’ lives before they hit high school, and absorb the baggage that comes from strong peer influence, and influence from the opposite sex,” Jen stresses. “Girls need to learn how to recognize and trust their own voice, to choose wisely when something doesn’t feel right to them, and to be confident enough to do so. This program will absolutely help with this.”
As a longtime yogi, a certified instructor of children’s yoga for the past 4 years, and the mother to a young daughter, Jen knows firsthand how yoga can foster feelings of self-empowerment and trust. Yoga has been transformative in her own life, and she is passionate about giving kids the same opportunity to find ways to manage stress and how to listen to—and nurture—their bodies and minds. She hopes to teach girls in her GirlPower! program how skills learned on the mat can translate into their everyday lives, a topic she often covers on her yoga-inspired blog, karmaspotkids.com.
Each class will begin with 45 minutes-to-1-hour of yoga, followed by discussion and writing in journals. The class will be a safe space where girls are encouraged to talk freely about their feelings without fear of judgement. Jen, who holds an MFA, will then assist each girl with the creation of her personal magazine.
This amazing program is open to Midtown members only, and girls are encouraged to reach out to their friends and invite them to enroll. I wish my own two daughters were old enough for this program. Clearly, they believe they’re ready now.
GirlPower! takes places on Sunday afternoons from September 9th through October 28th from 4-6pm in Yoga Studio B. The cost is $140. Membership is not required.
Contact Jen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Mind/Body Director Randi Lattimore at email@example.com with questions. And to learn more about the benefits of yoga for kids, click here and here.
If you have a daughter in 4th or 5th grade, the lessons she’ll learn in GirlPower! will prove invaluable for her as she navigates through the confusing and often negative world of our media-driven culture. We hope to see her (and her friends) in class.
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